The 24th annual Siargao Cloud 9 Surfing Cup WSL Qualifying Series (QS) 3000 event has kicked off in pumping surf at Cloud 9. With an early high tide and offshore winds, officials ran through 12 heats of Round 1 in hollow 3-to-5 foot waves.
A surprising and exciting late entry to the event was West Australian super star Jack Robinson who had recently bowed out early from the EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira QS10,000 event in Portugal. After going down in his first round heat, Robinson decided to get on a plane and head to the warm waters of the Philippines and wash his loss off with a few hollow barrels. With 41 hours of travel under his belt and very little sleep, Robinson's tube instincts kicked in as he toyed with the lefts and rights at Cloud 9 to progress into Round 2 with a heat total of 14.34 (out of a possible 20) the highest of the event so far.
"I'm so glad I made it here," Robinson said. "It took 41 hours and once I got here I was so jet lagged I couldn't sleep. I was really disappointed with my loss in Portugal and then found out I could still get into this event so started the adventure and thankfully got here for my first heat. This is my first time here and I'm pretty impressed with the set up - it's such a sick wave. I definitely got woken up once I pulled into a few barrels that's for sure. I'm hoping for a strong result here because it could definitely be a keeper at the end of the year."
Local standout Sonny Aporbo utilized his knowledge of Cloud 9 to take out his opening round heat. While most surfers found their scores under the lip on day 1, Sonny opted to launch above it to post his winning score. He progresses into Round 2 where he will take on Gabriel Farias, Blake Thornton and Connor Lyons.
"The waves were a bit slow in that heat," Aporbo said. "I was hoping to get more barreled but I was forced to take to the air and was luck to hang on and land it. It's such a great experience surfing against all of these international surfers at our home break. I can't wait for the next round and for the epic waves that are coming."
Fresh off a win at the recent WRV Outer Banks Pro pres by Pacifico in North Carolina, Brazilian competitor Renan Peres Pulga came into Cloud 9 with a new found confidence. The stylish natural footer was excited to score perfect waves and was focused on having fun in his Round 1 heat.
"This is definitely the most perfect waves I have surfed in a Qualifying Series event," Peres Pulga said. "I wasn't going to come here to this event but when I won in North Carolina I decided I could afford to come. I'm so happy I did and I just want to be positive in heats and enjoy competing - it makes surfing so much more fun and it seems to reflect in my results."
Hawaiian ripper Kaimana Jaquias is somewhat of a veteran of the Siargao Cloud 9 Surfing Cup having competed here for the last 7 straight year's, even at a Pro Junior level. His knowledge of the reef at Cloud 9 was evident in his Round 1 matchup as he easily won the heat with a two wave total of 12.56.
"Regardless of conditions and wave quality it's always good coming back here to paradise," Jaquias said. "I love coming here and especially when the waves are like they are today. I'm stoked to make that heat as the forecast looks amazing for the remainder of the event."
Event officials will reconvene at Cloud 9 and make a call at 6:00 am local time for a potential 6:30 start to complete the remaining heats of Round 1 and potentially move into the later rounds, featuring the events top seeds.